January 30, 2009

Swatch-o-rama

Technically, I shouldn't be messing around with swatches for February Lady yet, but at some point spinning an endless supply of singles wears on a knitter (If by "wears on" you understand that at some point this morning I thought that I should rather shovel my front walk with my bare left elbow while singing showtunes than spin singles for another moment) and I thought I might break up the tedium by doing a tiny bit of plying and swatching - just so I could at least come back to the single spinning with the shape and promise of things to come firmly in mind. I therefore engaged in the following motivational exercise.

I decided I would ply, set and swatch the four options, the way I saw them. I would make a two ply, a three ply, a four ply and a four ply cabled yarn. First up... two ply.

Pwtwoply300109

Nice eh? Looked good in the swatch too...

Pw2Plyswatch300109

but I've rejected it entirely. It's pretty as well as nice and bouncy and elastic, but I don't like the idea of only two colours being present at once... I think it's going to make the differences between skeins too great as the sweater goes on - and it isn't anywhere near an aran weight. Light worsted maybe.

Then there's the cabled yarn. The singles are spun, then plied with extra twist, then that strand is plied against itself.

Pwcabledy300109

It's a seriously sexy yarn. It looks to me almost like it's beaded, with the colours well mingled, and frankly, I just have a thing for cabled yarns. It too is elastic and charming, but it's heavier than I was hoping for (nudging towards a chunky, just past aran) and the swatch settled me against it.

Cabledswtch300109

Cabled yarns make really smooth stockinette and really, really strong yarn. The bumps on the yarn fit together like interlocking driveway bricks, creating a surface with less diversity than that of yarn plied once, but the February Lady sweater is lace and garter, and you can see from that cast on edge that the bumpiness of garter in cabled yarns is made even bumpier by purl bumps, and I don't think I like it. I found this yarn to be rather dense as well, which is a peril of cabled yarns - at least in my experience, where the slightest heavy handed moment results in a yarn that is the fibre equivalent of lead. Sadly, as I find with people, something pretty but dense is of limited use. In addition, the individual colours present in the plies are almost blended too much for me in this project, I think it resembles a heathered yarn. Nope. This yarn got rejected, and it also wiped out the possibility of trying a four ply, unless the three ply really sucked.

Pwthreeply300109

The three ply is - as almost all yarns that have more than two plies are, very smooth, consistent looking, round and elastic. This three ply is downright cushy and bouncy. I like that there are three options for colour at a time, which means that there's a greater chance that the individual skeins will have at least one ply in common now and again, and frankly, I think it's pretty. Really pretty.

Pw3Plyswatch300109

The swatch was pretty too. Nice stitch definition, does nice things with the colours, and darn it if when I measured, I wasn't getting exactly 18 stitches to 10cm... the stated gauge for the sweater. Not almost 18, not 18 if I fudged, not 18 if I blocked, not 18 if I smooshed it a little against the ruler.... 18. A good, honest 18 that doesn't have on a low cut shirt, and fake ID in it's pocket on a Friday night. 18.

It's settled. I'm doing a three ply. You know, as soon as I finish the singles. (Mostly.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:59 PM

January 29, 2009

Still Singles

I could show you a picture but it would look almost exactly the same, so let's skip it. Imagine that just under this text is a brilliant picture of beautiful singles with just a little more done than yesterday.

Imaginesingle280109

There were lots of wonderful questions yesterday, so let's do a little Q&A.. yes?

Karin asks two questions:

Where's the skirt? How's the foot??

Very direct and efficient. Skirt is upstairs, waiting for me to buy and sew a slip in it... also it needs to be reblocked because I have moments of stupidity that are virtually unparalleled in the fibre world. The foot's ok. It feels great, but I still have another few days of brace/cane to do before I can get it re-imaged (that means another x-ray, although every time I hear "re-imaged" it goes to the same place as the word "re-imagined" which I like better.) I am hoping to resume walking next week when I am re-imagined. I think it would be best for everyone involved.

Laura is somewhat perturbed.

Only 750 yards of yarn? That makes you an XXS. I knew you were petite, but that is just downright *annoyingly* petite for a tall, no-longer-svelte knitter like me! No wonder you make so many sweaters; it only takes you half the yarn I need.

You betcha. Tiny knitters have it made in the shade - since not only does it take less time to knit small sweaters, it takes less yarn to buy for them too. I'm perpetually grateful (and working to stay a size small) so that I can continue to live on the knitters equivalent of easy street. For the record though, I'm not really as small as all that. I'm 155cm tall (that's about 5'1") and my chest measures 37 inches with my bra on. I'm choosing a smaller size than I usually would for the February Lady sweater because I hear it runs large and that's what I should do.

Cathy wonders:

When you have skeins of yarn with no label and forget what size you bought the yarn for, how do you measure the yarn? do you lay it out on the floor and all over the house, or is there a better way? I'm not crazy, I just got carried away at the Sewing Festival a year ago and my memory is not what it used to be. It's not the same yarn as in the pattern, so weighing it won't help.

Weighing always helps. If you don't know what yarn it is and are wondering the yardage, get a tape measure and a wee scale that handles tiny amounts. (If you don't have one, you can go to the post office. They are usually really helpful.) Using the tape measure, count out 10m (or yards). Cut the yarn. Weigh it. Let's say (using made up numbers) that 10m weighed 5g. We want to know what one metre weighs so we divide that 5g by 10. 5 (total for 10m) divided by 10 (the number of metres) = .5g. Now weigh the whole ball. Let's say it's 100g. We know that .5 is one metre, so 100 grams (100 divided by .5g) is 200 metres. Get it?

(Thank you grade 10 math. I am sorry I mocked you.)

Patti wonders:

I know you are really busy, but is the cowl pattern coming out soon???

Ask the test knitters. Actually, ask this one, because I happen to know her kid's on his third snow day and she's a woman on the edge. It might be fun to see what happens if she snaps.

Nancy ponders my mad toilet roll skills,

When you have time, could you share how you do that with the squished toilet paper tubes? Do you put them on my ball-winder as is, and squish them later? Do they stay put or do you have to tape them on? Or do you need to squish them first?

Any tricks to get them to feed smoothly from a lazy kate when plying?

I wind the singles (after they have rested and the twist has gone to sleep) onto the ball winder, then crunch the toilet paper roll so that it fits into the hollow on the top of the shaft of the winder, and slide the singles up onto them. Works great. When it's time to ply, I don't bother putting them on a Kate (ask me why I don't call it a "lazy" kate sometime. I dare you. It's rant #56B.) If you wait a while (a few days) before plying, the twist is no longer active and a loosely wound ball of singles won't collapse on itself and complicate plying. (Mostly.)

Alicia queries:
What's a green bin?

The details on the green bins are here, but mostly, it's a compost service provided by the city of Toronto. Organic waste of all types (diapers, meat, veggies, cooked leftovers, paper plates and towels etc) are picked up by the city once a week to reduce garbage. A small pail with a lid stores it in the kitchen, and that's empties into a larger bin on wheels outside. That bin goes curbside. The green bin, together with our cities extensive recycling program mean that this family only makes a tiny bit of garbage, which is picked up once every two weeks.

Lauren says:
I'm sure your FLS will turn out better than mine ... it's hitting the frogpond this weekend hopefully, and then the two of us have a date with a coffee dyebath. Sounds romantic, yes?

Yes, it does. Isn't that normal?

Alicia wonders about fibre becoming yarn.

How much fiber did you start with? I just started spinning and have no idea what kind of yardage to expect from 4, 8, 12oz of fiber... so far, my couch is covered in 100-200m skeins, ready to make... hats? Trim for other projects? One skein wonders, if I'm lucky. How much fiber does it roughly take to spin enough for a sweater?

Generally speaking, it takes what it takes if you're buying yarn, only measured by weight rather than yardage. If I would usually buy 5 skeins of 100 grams of yarn to knit a sweater (I'm making that up) then I would know that I would need at least 500g of processed fibre (like roving) to spin for a sweater. I usually add half as much again, because handspun tends to be denser than commercial yarn. (Especially for a new spinner.) If I'm starting with raw fleece, then I get double (at least) because I know that I'm going to lose fibre (and dirt, and grease) in the washing and carding.

Kristy is having a flashback. She says:

Am I the only one that was reminded of the end of an episode of SOAP with that last paragraph? Am I the only one that remembers the show SOAP?

No, you're not, and what a great show that was. Remember the final line? "These questions - and many others - will be answered in the next episode of Soap." I so want to end this blog entry that way...but now it seems derivative. So let's just stop.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:38 PM

January 28, 2009

Spinning my wheels

Both literally and figuratively. The workload is insane right now, and after complaining bitterly about the 14 hour workdays and how even with working 14 hours I'm still hopelessly behind, it finally occurred to me that I should be really grateful that it's possible to earn a living this way, even if it now takes 14 hours a day. I also had a huge pang of irony as I finally got up from my desk last night and thought "Wow. I'm so glad that I'm done working for today" and promptly went to clean the living room, restore the kitchen, fire in a load of laundry, put away the groceries, call the phone company, sort the bank account, do the green bin and recycling and take a run at uncovering the dining room table - all while parenting snarky teenagers. (There's a feminist rant in there somewhere, but I think it's been done.)

(While I'm at it? Note to teenagers: I am not "cranky". I am working hard and on several deadlines that support you. There is a very clear difference, and you will understand it when you are 40. I will laugh the laugh of the righteous that day, as I laughed it last night when you told me that you are "too tired" empty the dishwasher. Wait for it.)

As I am hampered by wage earning, the actual spinning of literal wheels has been rather limited - if by limited you understand that I mean that I am not (yet) ready to meet this goal by replacing sleep with spinning. I've got a whole bunch of singles spun, and a whole bunch left to go, and all of my bobbins were full. Now, in the interest of making a consistent yarn, I want to do all of my plying at once when I'm done with the singles. Taking the advice of a whole lot of you guys, I've wound a bunch of the singles onto a dead sexy toilet paper roll collection, which I have decoratively arranged for you here.

Singlesforflb290109

You can see that what looks like a solid colour on the bobbin is really several colours in the ball, and I think that's going to be part of the thrill of plying - and I expect plying to be plenty thrilling, let me tell you. February Lady, the project for this yarn, takes about 750 yards (694m) of worsted weight yarn, and the gauge is 18 stitches to 10cm/4", measured over garter stitch. I'm spinning singles with a mind to making a three ply. That means that three strands of my singles put together should add up to a worsted weight yarn, or at least, what I'm expected to think of as a worsted weight yarn.

In reality, I think of 18sts to 10cm as a heavy worsted. The way I was taught, a worsted hangs out at around 20sts to 10cm, and a yarn that knits nicely at 18 stitches to 10cm is called an Aran. Mind you, I learned my yarn weights way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, nobody had a cell phone, you had to carry cash and yarn came from the wool department at The Bay. There are days were I cannot understand the current yarn standards at all... they fly in the face of my personal history. I get hives when Aran and Worsted yarn are spoken of in the same breath, as though they are one and the same. (I bet that I'm not alone on that one. I can't be the only knitter with a little yarn weight OCD.)

Lecture aside, and no matter what you want to call it, I need a yarn that looks great at 18 stitches to 10cm (coughthatsanarancough) and since I didn't sample this yarn before I spun this much, it should be an exciting surprise to see - once I begin the ply-fest, if that's what I'm getting. Maybe I'll need a 4ply. Maybe I'll do a cabled yarn... oh.. a cabled yarn. That's sexy. Maybe I'll chain ply, which is sort of a three ply but not really, but would change the way the colours worked... Maybe... oh yeah... maybe I'll do a five ply... I've never even thought about a 5 ply! Maybe three plys will be too thick.... Maybe I should change the gauge on the sweater and do a three ply no matter what... Maybe...

Maybe I need to finish my singles.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:47 PM

January 26, 2009

Stratagem

Is it possible to be stalked by your own desk? No matter what I do I can hear something on my desk mumbling about how I'm not giving it proper attention. If I work on the Sock Summit (when you guys see the teacher list you're going to loose your minds. I can't believe it myself) then I hear The Blog rumble. If I work on The Blog, my inbox threatens to implode. If I address the inbox, then the writing work I have to do looms large. It's days like this that make me wish I had a boss who would step in and say "Go do this. I want it by five - and don't let me catch you knitting."

The knitting at least, is one area where I know where I'm headed. The skirt is drying, having finally decided to allow my own tenacity to determine the length. I decided yesterday that having reached a modest and scientific length of "somewhere around the knee - I'll know more after I've blocked it" - to call it quits wherever I was at bedtime, and this morning I finished the repeat (two rounds) and cast off. I've still got to knit a whack of i-cord for the waist, and line it, but I think the bulk of it is behind me. It's a pretty thing, and tomorrow when I put it on I'll know the length. I like the element of surprise, and considering that The Blog comments were divided amongst "Stop before the knee or you'll look ridiculous" and "Stop at the knee, it's the only solution" mixed in with an equal measure of "Just below the knee is the only appropriate length" I've let fate decide. It is as long as destiny wants it to be, and we'll find out how long that is when I put the thing on tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've set myself a goal. I would like to wear my February Lady sweater, which currently looks like this:

Fivepolwart51108-1

(plus another equivalent amount of roving)

to Madrona, which is (very appropriately) February 12. Nothing like a challenge to add fuel to the fire of overwork.
It's very odd, and probably says something very bad about my personality that heaping a big spinning/knitting project to the pile makes it all seem more reasonable, rather than less. We'll see if it ends up with me chewing on the leg of my spinning wheel.

(PS. For those of you who are Twitter-interested, I've started twittering (critics would say I've been doing it for a while) and all tweets (which are like very short on-the-run blog posts) are available on my Twitter page, or over there (I wish I could make an arrow pointing to it) on the right hand side under "I'm twittering...". They are all 140 characters or less, and can be done from a phone, which can't really be said for the blog. It's just another way for all of you to know what I'm thinking at all times, heaven help us.)

Posted by Stephanie at 3:04 PM

January 23, 2009

O Blog, My Blog

(With Apologies to Walt Whitman)

Dear Blog,

Did you know that's what we call you here? The Blog? All of you have somehow become some sort of collective to us here at home. We understand that you are individual people, we really do, but somehow to our way of thinking, you're a collaborative, united mass. I think of you like I would a flock of birds or a school of fish (except smarter- and better dressed, since fish and birds seldom wear anything by Nancy Bush) and I imagine you all on your own unpredictable, separate and individual paths within the flock, but still wheeling and turning on a dime en masse, one confederate of knitters.

When something happens Joe will ask me "Have you told The Blog?" or "What did The Blog say?" or, if it's really bad - "Are you going to tell the blog?" If I have a knitting problem or conundrum, Ken might suggest that I "ask The Blog" for an opinion or a solution. The girls are flattered when The Blog compliments them, the girls wouldn't want The Blog to know if they screwed up. The Blog is present during a great much of our days.

As of today, I have been writing this blog for precisely five years. When I began, there was none of The Blog. There were a few comments - as many as I deserved really, considering that I hadn't been blogging, that my pictures were shoddy and that it took me about 3 hours every day to make the blog happen, so horrendous were my technical skills. Back then, if I had a problem and Ken wouldn't answer his phone (having had the audacity to do something like have a life or do his paying job), the blog ground to a halt while I wept, read incomprehensible html things and hit "refresh" 46789 times like it might do something. (Actually, that really hasn't changed. Sorry Ken.)

As time went on, I came to realize that The Blog, as an entity, really wasn't me. I could write all I wanted to, I could say all I wanted to, and none of it had permanence or resonance or even importance if there was no-one there to read it, and I realized that The Blog, the whole thing, really relied on the people who read it, and commented and the communities that were around it. The Blog, as a whole, was nothing, not even really a blog without you, and that therefore, you were The Blog.

Over the years, we have spoken of you fondly, The Blog. We have said The Blog was so surprised!, or The Blog was so generous, or The Blog was so funny. Personally, I have said The Blog is so smart, The Blog understood how it could have happened, The Blog had a lot to say about that, or even - The Blog has brought me enormous comfort.

People have asked me too, over the years, what it is like to share your life with The Blog, and I have never really understood the question. It's true that there have been times that what The Blog had to say was not easy to hear, or times when The Blog had it's own ideas about who it was, or what it was here for, but overall, I cannot imagine living without The Blog, and the decision to share my life with all of you has reaped rewards that I couldn't imagine. Here, I haven't left the house in 9 days, and though the miracle of The Blog, I still have all my knitting friends with me... even if they can't form a collective opinion on skirt length and they are all (mostly) wearing unmatched knitwear.

I am less lonely because of The Blog.
I feel welcome many places because of The Blog.
I am less of a crazy knitting person because The Blog is crazy too.

Many, many thanks for a most remarkable journey. I adore each and every one of you. Thank you for giving me The Blog.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:03 PM

January 22, 2009

One Minute

If you were knitting a skirt (and I know some of you have) and lets say, it was this skirt, (scroll to the end of the entry) how long would you make it for a modest 40 year old woman? (That would be me.) Knee? Lower? How much lower? Would you expect it to stretch? A lot? Would you make it shorter to allow for that? How much shorter? Would you be surprised to discover that you were bucking a sudden urge to wear a woolen mini just to make the end come sooner? Would you make it longer to accommodate the stretching it might have to do around your arse? How much longer?

(I have a feeling to the answers to these questions might mean more knitting than I'm hoping. Don't you hate it when you're finished with a project before it's actually finished?)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:16 PM

January 21, 2009

Down But Not Out

This week, my little shining rainbows, has really gotten on top of me. I apologize for the radio silence, and I'm really fine, but I found getting to the blog a little hard these last several days. Luckily, I have prepared a list of excuses.

Excuse the first:

I am still in a brace, using a cane. It has gotten super old- super fast, and I'm beyond annoyed and actually filled with rage much of the time. (This morning's rage incident was trying to carry both a coffee and a plate.) This injury makes everything that there is to do way more work, and twice as slow. For a while I tried staying upstairs, but I'm alone for much of the day and there was no access to food, tea, coffee, most of the stash and all of my work stuff. After trying - for about the 15th time in as many minutes- to move something from the downstairs office to my upstairs bedroom with the power of my mind... I gave up and moved downstairs. Once downstairs I discovered that while I had almost everything I needed down there, the only bathroom is upstairs. It turns out that some up and down is just necessary, and so much time and will to go on is lost on lurching up and down the stairs. (If you make a suggestion involving some other sort of personal hygiene system that does not involve using my brand new soil stack and renewed love for running water, I shall mock you. You won't know it, because I'll be here and you'll be- well. Wherever you are, but I will mock you. The bathroom is the only option. Period.)

Excuse the Second:

This is the time of year that Joe works out of town, sound editing student films... and so I'm flying solo. I would be frustrated by the crappy timing, but am too afraid that Joe will bring up how I left on a book tour right after he broke his foot, so I have said nothing.

Excuse the Third:

Megan has been applying to Universities. If you're a parent who's been through this, you know what it's like. She chose U of T, Ryerson, York, Queen's and Memorial. (If she goes to Memorial Joe will be thrilled, and I shall be a complete wreck. I can't imagine her going to a school so far away, it just seems like a huge slice of crazy pie. I imagine that this will fade when I realize that she's taking her laundry with her and that her departure will leave me with only one child still at home, but for now... crazy pie.) The paperwork is a nightmare.

Excuse the Fourth:

Barack Obama. I swear, the man is riveting. While he and I are not in complete agreement on some of the issues (for example, I oppose the death penalty in every case, and believe in the same rights to marriage for all) I have to say that no matter what his politics (or yours, I suppose) he has certainly raised the level of discourse about politics. Nice big words, speaks to people like they are responsible, capable and intelligent citizens.. .and, while it's hardly a qualifier for the job, and matters not a whit, I think it's nice that he can dance. Canadian Prime Ministers are sworn in privately, and there are no parades, no speeches, no televised balls... I spent a whole day yesterday watching the new President, and as I had no cultural frame of reference, it was gripping. Just gripping. In any case to my American friends, congratulations on your new President. He seems both smart and spiffy.

Excuse the Fifth:

It is cold. The only time I am warm is when I am in the bath. Near constant bathing is taking a lot of time.

Excuse the Sixth:

Battlestar Galactica. (Seriously? That's the final cylon? I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen it, but for those of you that watched, don't you think there just has to be another twist coming? )

Watchingeoj16109

I did indeed finish my Eye of Jupiter socks, and I will be wearing them for every episode and the finale. Yes. I am that big a dork- and no- I don't care who knows it.

Fineoj21109

Pattern: Leyburn, Yarn: the really cool colourway "Eye of Jupiter" from Sereknity. Needles, 2.25mm Signature Dpn's (Still feeling the love.)

Excuse the Seventh:

Sam was cold. She asked me for a set of hat and mittens, and asked for them to be handknit, very grown up, elegant and "not too knitty". The "not too knitty" confused me, because really, that seemed like a lot to ask of a handknit, but when pressed as to what "not too knitty" might mean, the child told me that she has noticed something about knitters. She says that she can spot them in a crowd because their hats, mittens and scarves don't match. They might have a fabulous hat, and a fantastic scarf, and a really impressive pair of mittens, but since they were all separate knitting adventures (and they might even match in a colour way) they aren't part of a set. "Real people..." she said (and we're letting the "real" comment go - she's young) "Real people have matching stuff because they bought it." I looked around and dudes.. she's right. This season I'm using a Noro beanie, some Latvian mittens and a scarf Denny made me. Hadn't even occurred to me that they weren't a set, but then again, I'm a woman who considers a bra an accessory. I may not be a fashion role model. I decided that if Sam wanted a set, Sam could have a set. After all, what sort of a knitterly mother turns down any request for her art? I had some leftover LSS in "Winter Solstice", and I did a little rooting around and came up with this.

Samssetdone210109

The mittens are Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Mitred Mittens from The Knitters Almanac. (Scroll down.) The hat (I just love the hat) is a knock off of the Robin's Egg Blue Hat, which is completely charming, but the yarn I had was the wrong gauge, so I winged it. (My apologies to Rachel, who wrote a great pattern that I largely ignored.) I used the leftover little bit of the LSS to knit a band. I started at one end, casting on 16 stitches, then knit until it measured around Sam's head, then tapered it off. I sewed that together, then picked up stitches and knit up (using the leftover Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted from Hank's sweater) then decreased down sharply for the round top. I decided then that I wanted a little black at the bottom so it would look like the band was attached to a black hat, so I picked up stitches (through the back, so it would leave a little ridge on the right side - which is something I now wish I had thought of when I picked up for the top...)

Pickingupbacksh20109

increased a little (one stitch for each four) so that it wouldn't be tight, then knit a purl ridge and cast off knitwise. Taking a page out of Rachel's book, I dug around my Gramy's old button bin for one big vintage button, sewed it on...

Buttonhatsh210109

and it's perfect, and Sam's already worn it in public once, so it must have passed inspection. I'm wondering though, does your winter wear match?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:24 PM

January 16, 2009

Praise Wool

Well.

Frostyblackout140109

That was a bit much.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:52 PM

January 15, 2009

You know it's cold when

You contemplate knitting yourself a pair of woollen tights and have been made so delusional by the temperatures and sluggish furnace that you think this is a project that you could actually complete in enough time to make a difference.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:57 PM

January 14, 2009

Many Things

1. There are all these things that I keep forgetting/neglecting to tell you because I can't make it all go together so I'm not even going to try. Prepare yourself. This entry will be chaos.

2. Socks continue to scorch the needles they are so darned fast. Pair by Friday for sure I think.

3. Total for MSF/DWB also scorching. We're up to the staggering and remarkable total of $590 768.
Fear us, for we are mighty. (There's more too, as I make my way through my inbox one chunk at a time. As you can imagine, a couple of hundred grand in small chunks is a lot of tallying. I don't mind at all, but that's why it's taking a while. To get even a thousand dollars in $20 bites takes 50 emails. Patience please. If I haven't acknowledged your gift yet, it's not in the tally- but it will be, I do a bunch every day.) As promised, we have more karmic balancing gifts. (If you think you're the person that won, check your email. I've sent notes to everyone got lucky.)

The gracious Barb has two things she'd like to share. A set of these beautiful Spinner's Notecards will be going to Kelly P. and a skein of this beautiful laceweight,

Barbslacew14109

it's 90 Canadian alpaca, 10 silk 1300 yds, which will be enough for Tracy T. to make something really good.

Marie in NJ has decided to give three skeins of this Wool in the Woods "Fuzzy Wuzzy", (colorway Thief in the Night)

Feelin-Fuzzy14109

to Dragon P. (Well, she didn't exactly decide it should go there, that was a random number generator, but you know what I mean.)

Aubrey of Goodies Unlimited (I love everything they make) has been very generous, she has four $25 gift certificates to give away, and those are going to Kristi P, Tamara G, Holly G, and Luciana. (The four of you should give Aubrey some extra love. She had to have her gallbladder out just before Christmas. I don't want to tell you what to get, but I have a tub of Everything Balm that I'm pretty attached to.)

Beth, another soap making goddess, has three sets of six bars. They're glycerine based, contain natural dyes and nice things, and are scented with essential oils.

Bethssoaps14109

and the random number generator says that they will be going to live with Diane N, Sabrina D and Janet H.

Finally today, my friend and yours, the indefatigable Cat Bordhi, is going to sign one each of her books and ship them off to live with five different knitters. (Probably not until after TNNA though.) New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One is going home to Brownie C. Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles is for Dawn V. A Treasury of Magical Knitting is going to live with Leslie M. A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting loves Brie C, and a copy of Cat's novel Treasure Forest (which I read and loved- a lot) is going to Melissa S.

A big virtual hug to everyone helping me make this happen.

4. There are more gifts to come, so don't worry if you didn't get an email from me and you think you're being left out. You're not.

5. Sam really needs mittens and a hat. She is having trouble being very, very hip, and very, very warm, since she feels that all of her old woollies are "not very cool". (I think this means they are colours.) I'm going to have to figure something out, since it's -25 here today.

6. The ankle x-ray came back yesterday, and it's not a stress fracture, but an osteochondral injury. This isn't tremendously bad news, since mine is "stable" and "minor" but it does mean that I have to keep staying off it. Intense negotiations with the Dr. have resulted in a plan involving a cane and brace (I was opposed to crutches because they are hard on your hands and you can't carry a coffee. If I can't carry a coffee, I can't do it.) for three weeks, and then "imaging re-evaluation" and referral to a specialist if things aren't a lot better.

7. I am going to have to find a non-weight bearing exercise to do for the next three weeks, because it turns out that going for runs and walks is a crime prevention strategy for my personality.

8. I am sort of glad it is an osteochondral injury, because one of the other choices was that maybe it was "gout". Since I (whether I am right or wrong) associate gout with people who look like Winston Churchill, I am sort of glad I don't have it. As I said to the doctor, I'm a fit, active, 40 year old vegetarian in sensible shoes. Gout would be inappropriate.

9. Osteochondral injuries are usually injuries of "overuse" that athletes get. I think that's better than gout. (The fact that I am not an athlete does not make this feel any less noble.)

10. I know all of that is wrong, but I can't help it.

11. I want a cane like House.

12. Have I told you guys about the special Bohus exhibit that's about to happen? It's called Radiant Knits: The Bohus Tradition, and its opening at the American Swedish Institute on Friday January 23 in Minneapolis. (The fabulous Minnesota Knitting Guild is a sponsor.) I can't go, but I think that anybody who can should hustle there as fast as they can. Solveig Gustafsson will be there talking about her work dyeing and recreating the Bohus Designs, Bohus Stickning designer Kerstin Olsson will talk about her work at Bohus... it's going to be gripping, all of it. (Make sure you scroll around on the Swedish Institute page.) There are tons of events, and I know a lot of them are sold out, but a lot aren't. I think that anyone within striking distance should turn up. Bohus is an important part of knitting history, and besides it being a really, really interesting topic, it's important to support knitting events like this, particularly educational ones.

We're in serious danger of losing much of this knowledge about knitting, and if we don't support attempts to pass on the expertise and experiences of the knitters before us, much of it will be lost in the shuffle. Bohus Stickning organization was begun in Sweden in the 1930's during the last great depression. The wife of the Governor of Bohuslän helped a group of women to create a co-operative organization to help support their families. (Actually, since many of the women's husbands were unemployed, knitting became the main support for a lot of them.)

It's a timely and interesting topic.

13. You should read the comments from yesterday. There are some socks there that are purportedly "fast" that I hadn't heard of. Totally worth a read.

14. Speaking of reading, I just finished Housekeeping (on Cari's say so) and it was really lovely.

15. Also very good, Franklin's book, It Itches. I've been remiss in not saying anything about this, but truth be told, other than flipping through and giggling several times (mostly to make sure that he hadn't written a terrible book that I was going to have to avoid discussing with him.) I hadn't had a really good sit down with it. I finally did, and it's very grand. I quite liked the wee essays (especially the "Lost Knitting Diaries of the Famous") and quite frankly, I know knitters who should be relating pretty hard to the cartoon on page 101. (Hint. That may not be a compliment.) I've heard my work compared to Franklin's and his to mine, and I don't know how he feels about being compared to me, but after having a nice cuppa and a perusal of his little book... I'm flattered to be in that rarest of niches with him. The proud, the few...
The Knitting Humourists. Nicely done buddy.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:35 PM

January 13, 2009

Riddle Me This

Have you ever noticed that some sock patterns are fast? Not just that they seem fast, like when a patterns so entertaining that you get invested and time seems to fly... but when it's actually fast? Empirically fast?

I've noticed it with the Leyburn socks. I sit down to knit for a regular block of sock knitting time, and when the time's up, I've got way, way more sock than is normal for me. I feel like I could bang these out a mile a minute, and I practically am.

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That's a sock and some in about 2/3 of the time that I would reasonably expect to spend getting a sock and some. (The picture also shows the rather dramatic and fierce swelling of my left ankle, kindly disregard. My ankles are usually as fetching as the one on the right.) Admittedly, having to sit around with my foot up (it is wearing so thin already) is granting me a little bit more knitting time than usual, but I swear that's not all it is. There's voodoo in this pattern. Fast voodoo. I had the same experience with the Monkey pattern, and Loskins is darned quick too. You would think that a patterned sock would be slower than a plain sock, since all that stitch manipulation has just got to be slower than churning out the knit stitch, but it just doesn't seem to be true. The intelligent part of me says that it's that I'm being charmed, and the charm eggs me on, but I have been charmed before.. this is knitting after all, and it can't just be that.

What makes these patterns so fast? Do you find any fast? Which ones? Why do you think it is?

Thoughts?

Posted by Stephanie at 4:06 PM

January 12, 2009

Geeky on a Monday

It's been a fairly quiet weekend here, except for in the comments - holy cow, am I ever flattered by how much you all like that little cowl. I'm working on the pattern, and I'm getting it to test knitters...and then I'll figure out how to get it to you. (Patience please.) Most of the quietness was enforced by a little gift I've gotten from the planet, in the form of what appears to be a stress fracture in my left ankle - although the x-ray isn't back yet. (Joe says I certainly have had enough stress to fracture something, so maybe he's right.) I took up running a while back, and perhaps I did a little much a little soon. (Going too far, too fast would totally be in keeping with my personality.) The treatment for said fracture is apparently something called "staying off it", and I'm finding it hard. (That is also rather in keeping with the aforementioned personality.) The only thing keeping me down (as much as I am able) is knitting and the tv, and I'm combining the two rather brilliantly, I think.

I know that it's probably no big secret that I'm a huge geek. A Sci-fi geek, to be painfully precise, and if you're a Sci-fi geek, then you have to be knowing that this is a big week. On Friday, the final few episodes of Battlestar Galactica will finally air, and I will be watching, and hopefully, I will be wearing socks to match. (I know. Huge geek. I already copped to it.) When I realized that this is the week, I went through my stash until I found this skein

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which is from Sereknity (Sereknity - get it? That's even geekier.) and it's called (drumroll for the geeks)
Eye of Jupiter! (If you're a BSG geek, you're going to totally get that.)

(Note for BSG geeks -wound up like that, doesn't it look like it did on Starbuck's wall?)

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(Sereknity's "Classica" yarn in the Eye of Jupiter colourway, in the clever and lovely Leyburn pattern that's so perfect for busy yarn.)

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I'm knitting it up just as quickly as I can, and frak it all, I will be wearing these by the time the series finale is on, if not sooner, and I know there's just got to be another BSG knitting geek out there who will join me. I dare you. (If you do it, send me a picture, will you? Joe thinks this urge is odd as fish. I could use a few normalizing comrades.)

I know that revealing that I am a geek of this magnitude will be shocking to some of you, and reassuring to others. Think what you will. You can't hurt me with it. To quote Blaine in the X-Files "I didn't spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons and not learn a little something about courage."

Geeks unite.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:44 PM

January 9, 2009

Pretty Thing

Very recently - about three minutes before I cast on this project, I got a skein of yarn for Christmas. It was a yarn that I'd seen a friend knitting with, and I'd fallen head over heels in love with it. This friend is the clever and generous sort, and I was so clearly and instantly smitten that she'd procured a skein for me and made a present of it.

It was this lovely bit of business...

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Roving Winds Farm 2ply cashmere, in what they call a "soft grey-brown". (No. She's my friend and you can't have her. I'm not even telling you who she is so you can't suck up to her.) There's about 375 yards in that wee 60g (just over 2oz) skein, and each of them is a lovely, lovely thing. I wound it up straightaway, and began to cast about for a pattern to make with it, so smitten was I with it's comely nature. I knew I wanted a cowl, since the thought of that softness by a neck was so perfect, and I perused the internet and ravelry madly to that end. I saw many great cowls as I travelled, but it turned out that I was having that pattern problem again. The pattern problem happens to me all the time, and I bet you've done it. It's where I've already made up my mind about precisely what I'm looking for. I know exactly what it is that I want, how it looks, how much yarn it takes, what needle it's knit on, and I end up not so much searching for a great pattern, as trying to locate the pattern I can see in my head.

Now it turned out this time (as it does a lot of other times) that nobody had written the pattern for the cowl in my head, and so I decided that maybe I would try to write down what I saw, and hope for the best. Now, I'm not a designer, and the occasional good idea doesn't make you one, so this -despite being a good idea - at least the way it looked in my mind - doesn't always work for me. Usually I end up with a really horrendous kindergarten level interpretation of what was in my head, because my head cares nothing for reality or the rules of knitting.
Not this time. This time I knit a tiny swatch for gauge, called Denny to see how big she thought a good cowl was (Denny is experienced in the ways of the cowl), consulted a few stitch dictionaries to see if my brain was even remotely on the planet, worked up a chart (thank you, knit visualizer) and started knitting.

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Several dreamy hours and 61 rows later (that's a lie. The chart is 62 rows but I knit 74 because I had to rip out a part and change it because I was knitting a series of strange beak like structures into the thing.)

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I love it. It is exactly, precisely, 100% what I had in my head, and considering the sort of place my head is, that's a miracle. The edges swoop the way I thought they would, the middle pulls in the way I wanted it to.

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It's delicate and strong, feminine without being wildly princessey, and warm without bulk. I'm really, really thrilled with it.

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The best part (beyond a 61 row cowl, which is pretty darned good) is that the cowl weighs this:

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And the leftovers....

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weigh that. Dudes. I can make three from one skein! (This makes me want to walk into a yarn shop like it's a local pub and shout something along the lines of "cowls for all my friends!" I may do that, actually.)

I may not be a designer (actually, I'm really not) but this wee cowl was definitely one of my better ideas. What a pretty thing.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:30 PM

January 8, 2009

Over, all

An odd thing happened here, all of a sudden. In the middle of a series of escapades that felt to me like they would never end at all (and indeed, I'd rather accepted that there would be no end at all) it all came to a peaceful and thorough end. My goal for the Christmas knitting (which I had fallen rather behind on) was to finish it all by 12th night... and I did. Tuppers socks are done and will be off to him in the mail in short order.

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The pattern is from Classics in Kroy (Patons #922) , a wonderful booklet that I've had for years. My copy is seriously ratted up, but my google-fu failed to find anywhere that this was still available. Anybody know?

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The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy (and it really is smooshy) and there was some serious competition for this colourway, particularly amongst the men in the family who think it's tremendously masculine. (I can't wait to tell them it's called "Cocoa Kiss".)

While I was on a roll I finished Susan's scarf...

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Another beautiful Just Enough Ruffles, and I think that this time I found the perfect yarn, in Blue Moon's "Luscious Single Silk". (This colourway is, most appropriately, Winter Solstice.) It's soft and drapey and I am struggling with the fact that I'm putting it in the mail, but I am.

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A scarf for Kelly got finished. This is alternating 1X1 rows of Blue Moon's Labrador in "Jewel of the Nile", and Silk Loops in "Bejewelled" and the colour is more accurate in the top picture. (Tina says she's replacing Labrador with another yarn she likes better called "ThickieThin". Tina also tells me that these yarns aren't on the website right now (which would be why I couldn't find them again) but will be on Monday.

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I finished at night, about 20 minutes before I gave it away, and so the colour is wildly off in this last one.

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I did 1X1 stripes by using 10mm Swing Needles (there's a "how to use them" tutorial there), but you could do it with ginormous dpn's or even a circular needle, where you pushed the work from one end to the other. It's a fun trick to do with two wildly different yarns. When I learned it, I immediately figured out what most of the novelty yarns in my stash were for.

I finished the last (for now) of the Noro two row stripe scarves, this one for my mum.

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(Noro Silk Garden, #'s 284 and 47)

Then, using cashmere to cope with disaster, I knit a wee and very, very pretty cowl, but I'm going to show you that tomorrow because all this doneness in one day is too overwhelming- because also?

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The plumbing is done, the drywall repairs are done and (finally) I can use the new washer again, as it was so cruelly removed from my grasp by the great soil pipe disaster of '09. It's great having a new soil pipe, but I think that I'd love it if the next renovation on this house was a) voluntary b) less pricey, and c) VISIBLE.

Still. I'm not complaining. There's a lot to be said for being able to flush at will.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:20 PM

January 6, 2009

In which my optimism was appropriate

Never let it be said, my friends, that I am not a coper. I cope fine. I have a multitude of skills with which to cope at my disposal. I am basically a good natured person. I am an optimist. I knit, which takes the edge off of a multitude of bad situations, and I am not opposed to a good stiff belt of whatever it takes to get through just about anything. (That said, I do believe that I am to be commended for my relative sobriety throughout this entire vexing couple of weeks.) Fear not for my sanity.

This morning the plumber arrived, and brought with him the very nice gentleman who cuts up houses. I'd emptied my cupboards last night in preparation for whatever the hell was going to go down, and they draped the kitchen in plastic and began cutting up the house and shining lights into walls and making their diagnosis.

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They spent quite a bit of time pondering what could be done, what should be done and what must be done, and at the end of this period of examination - during which I obnoxiously lurked around annoying them and asking questions ("Is it all right? Is that my pipe? How many holes do you have to make? How do the joists look? Why are you making that face? When you say "son of a *&^%$#$%^&^%$#&.... is that negative?") the verdict was in and it was all good. Great even. They said a lot of things. Amongst the gems like "What the *&^% is that pipe doing there?" and "Whoa. What the hell is that?" and "Why do you think that's not attached?" I gleaned the following relevant points.

1. Because the maniac who installed our plumbing a century ago did it funny - they only need to cut up one cupboard, not two.

2. As that same maniac put an exceedingly strange join in the pipe, they don't have to cut up the ceiling, just the bulkhead over the cupboard.

3. There is NO structural damage of any sort at all. None. Zip. Nada. Apparently the gallons of water that have been falling down beside the pipe when we drain the tub have been cascading straight down the outside of the cast iron pipe and falling on the sandy soil in the crawlspace behind the washer and dryer and have (mostly) been absorbed by the ground. This explains the small mudslide we found behind our dear departed Sir Washie (which was a mystery that troubled us for days) and gives us an odd sense of celebration for the fact that we don't have a proper cement floor (or walls) in that space. Who knew that an improperly finished antique cellar would pay off?

4. As the connections to the waste pipe are as bizarrely placed as a muskrat in a mirror store, Larry the plumber (a god walking the earth as man) can, in a strange and miraculous pipe dance of alchemy, totally replace the top part today and the bottom part tomorrow - which means that except for between 9 and 5 both days (and maybe a part of the third day) we can use our house. The kitchen will be out of commission the whole time, just because of the mess, but that's why we've been blessed with the great and modern gift of pizza delivery.

5. That doesn't mean that it will cost less, but does assure that it won't be a penny more, which is so freaking great that it made me want to kiss him full on the mouth - which I didn't do, although I may have confessed the urge.

I've retreated to my mother-in-laws house to work, where I can use the toilet at will, and although I'm still a little upset, I've pulled out the best coping skill I could find.

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Cashmere. One small and precious skein that was a gift from a very nice friend this Christmas. I've started to knit it up into a cowl of my own devising, and I think it looks wonderful.

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I intend to knit as much cashmere as it takes for the pipe to be replaced, my kitchen (both sides) to be repaired and for the extremely uncomfortable stress related spasm in the left side of my upper back to stop trying to shove my shoulder blade into my ear.

See? I'm a coper. Thanks for the good vibes for the kitchen. I think it worked.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:13 PM

January 5, 2009

What the world has against my kitchen

So Sunday afternoon, the new dryer arrived and was placed with very little fanfare. Turns out that if you rip out your cupboard, a door, a door frame and part of the wall that appliances go down into the basement like a hot knife through butter. Much relief and rejoicing was had by all, and Joe and I both sat down there and watched laundry go around like it was the new James Bond. Thrilling, I tell you. Thrilling. Our neighbour came over and helped Joe put our kitchen cupboards back on that side and today I'm taking an unreasonable amount of delight in putting all my things back in, or at least... I was, until the plumber I called to deal with a tiny little leak that was just making a noise and wasn't even causing any damage, dropped the bomb.

The bomb is that my "soil stack" is "20th century plumbing". It's a big cast iron pipe that carries all water and waste from the house, and mine has a big old hole in it just under the only bathroom in our house - up on the second floor, and the rest of it doesn't look good either. It isn't properly fixable and must be (IswearIfeelreallywoozyjustthinkingaboutthis) entirely replaced, from the basement to the upstairs. This will, naturally, necessitate ripping up the other side of the kitchen and render us bathroom-less for three days, beginning tomorrow - since it has to be fixed as soon as possible as the fact that a whole lot of water is running down the inside walls of the kitchen without doing visible damage is a problem. Me, I always thought that a leak not doing visible damage was a good thing, but apparently it is a harbinger of the horsemen of the apocalypse, since the water isn't landing in the basement, but is instead likely damaging not ceilings or walls (which are - despite their cosmetic importance, not important at all - as witnessed by the way that they're dropping like flies around here) but truly vital and mysterious things like "joists" or "electrical work" or "the support structure of the house". (That last one ends with my tub falling into the kitchen.. I think.)

All of that makes me feel pretty badly about how long we ignored the funny little water noise... but it's too late now so I'm letting it go, or at least I'm letting it go until tomorrow morning when they will demolish "a small portion" of the kitchen ceiling and wall and discover what's what in there. Cross your fingers that the estimate they gave me that caused all the blood to run out of my head is the full extent of the damage. Personally, I bet it is. I mean, you can't have a wreaked truck, eavestroughs down in a windstorm, a dead washer, a trashed kitchen, sawed up door frame, a wall off, a cracked soil stack AND structural damage.... right? That would be over the top, wouldn't it? I agree. Bloody unlikely.

We'll be moving in to Hotel Lovely-Mother-in-Law for a few days (and boy are we lucky to have that option), and for the next little while that we're pinching pennies to sort out the ransack and ruination of the unexpected pillaging of our post Christmas budget, I have to tell you, I'm being enormously comforted by the stash. I knew it felt right at the time, but now I know that buying this yarn while I could was a tremendously intelligent move.

Let that be a lesson to you. Stashing is just a clever financial insurance policy, and it's simply fiscally responsible to engage in it.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:55 PM

January 3, 2009

On the Tenth Day

The Top Ten Reasons I love my new Washing Machine*

10. It is in the basement, not the kitchen.

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9. Only one small part of one old wall needed to come down, and then it went down with as little difficulty as a 400lb washer can while being moved through a very, very narrow house by men who have been moving a washer for two days and aren't really excited anymore. Turns out that Joe's optimism was not only well placed, but necessary.

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8. It holds about 3 times what Sir Washie did. Seriously. I can do every single towel in the whole house in one load. I feel like someone just gave me my life back. When the matching dryer arrives tomorrow I expect to weep openly out of sheer joy.

7. It holds so much that if you bug a kid to do their laundry, and you finally manage to convince them to go and do it, they can do all of their laundry in one load and that means that you're only going to have to fight with them about laundry and how people really do care how they smell once every week, not twice. I will lay down my life for anything that makes for fewer fights with my kids.

6. It has a warranty. For five years, this washer can only make bad noises rather than expensive ones.

5. It has a spin only cycle, which means that even though it's a front loader, I can still use it to take extra water out of fleece, yarn and handwashed woollies.

4. It makes virtually no noise. I loved Sir Washie, but the sound of him running through a cycle was something that you could hear from all over the house, and a slightly unbalanced load (and like many of us in our last months, Sir Washie was mostly unbalanced towards the end) could shake windows, scare small children and was generally louder than a 15 year old stripped of a cell phone on a Friday night just after she found out that the new boy who moved in next to her friend said that he thought her hair was " sorta nice."

3. It is a stupid crazy kind of water and energy efficient. Since we have an extremely old water supply to the house, our water pressure is sort of "limp". (So limp that we don't have a shower installed in the house and it takes 15 minutes to fill a bathtub.) This means that we can only have one water using thing on at a time... you can do laundry OR use the dishwasher, do laundry OR or have a bath, do laundry OR brush your teeth. Anything water efficient means more other water stuff works more of the time.

2. For weeks, we've been taking our laundry over to my mother-in-law's. This means that you bundle up yourself and your laundry, walk over to her place in varying types of freezing precipitation and over a variety of forms of ice, wash it, and walk back freezing your arse all the way. This is a huge chunk out of ones workday, so we've been trying not to dirty clothes. Having a washer in the house means that the next time someone spills a coffee, I can mop it up with a towel, rather than scream "Drink it off the floor! Drink it off the floor! Are you Crazy! Don't touch that towel!" like I did three days ago when the last clean towel in the house looked like it needed to be guarded with my life.

1. When Sir Washie finished a load (heaven bless him) he did nothing but lay there quietly trying to recover from the effort. When the new washer finishes - it PLAYS A SONG.** Joe thinks that the purpose of the song is to tell you that the load is finished, but I don't think so. I think it plays a song because it's just so thrilled to be serenely fulfilling its highest purpose and doing my laundry. I think it's trying to tell me that there is nothing else in the world that would satisfy it more than churning away so we can have clean gitch. I think it's delighted to be in my service and that it doesn't resent the basement (like I do.)
I think it's happy.

* my love for my new washing machine should in no way be taken as a lack of loyalty to the memory of Sir Washie. He was the best washer ever and can never really be replaced no matter how seriously slick his replacement is.

** The song is "Die Forelle" (The Trout) by Schubert. I am totally not kidding.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:47 PM

January 1, 2009

Old Out, but New Not In

It is with tremendous sadness that I write to you this bright and shining New Years Day to tell you of the passing of my dear friend, helpmate and tireless companion, Sir Washie. Sir Washie, a 30 year old Kenmore heavy duty washer of extraordinary merit, departed this home yesterday after a short illness, which ended when the 4th repair man we called laughed himself into a coughing spasm rather than come out and even look at him, saying that all he would do if he came was charge us $100 for a death certificate. (Apparently he, like the other three repair men could tell from their cars that Sir Washie was suffering from a terminal illness, which I think was rather unfair to my washer, and I told them so.)

I have spoken before about my deep love for Sir Washie, of the many magical things he has done for me... from his noble rendering of clean diapers when the girls were little, to the countless towels the teenagers have foisted upon him in his old age, he has selflessly served this family. He was patient, learning to enter into new relationships over the last few years, as Joe and the girls sought to (reluctantly) share in the joy coming to know him - gently drawing their attention to their unbalanced loads by politely thumping across the room. Even when they forgot to clean his lint filter he was understanding, and he never once spoke of the time that I clogged his pump felting clogs.

Perhaps his greatest gift to this family was that he never once, in all of the time that we were together, burdened us with a repair bill at a time when we couldn't manage it - and even after having his bottom parts dipped in an icy basement flood he just kept on washing. He was considerate that way. Sir Washie is the only entity on this earth that has helped me just about every day without complaining, judging or expecting anything from me, and he will be sorely missed.

He will be especially missed, since as expected, his demise has created a nightmare chain of events. Joe and I went shopping to replace him (and his slacker dryer friend, who is a limping piece of crap that I don't love at all) and we carefully chose the smallest appliances that were still full size - and that we could afford. (Did you know that there are $4000 washing machines? Seriously. If a washer is $4000 I want it to get the laundry out of my room and bring it back folded after it made me coffee and told me it likes my hair. $4000. Boggles the mind.)

Yesterday, when the new washer arrived, the delivery guys went downstairs, fetched up my dear Sir Washie and hauled him up the steps, only to discover, as we had known, that the kitchen pantry needed to be disassembled to get him out.

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We sort of knew that, although it still upset me. In our family, it is tradition to tidy up on New Year's Eve. In fact, I usually clean for a few days leading up, believing that how your affairs are when the new year dawns is how your affairs will continue for the coming year. We end as we mean to go on... and the idea of trashing the house - really trashing it on New Years Eve hit my superstition button hard. What would it mean for the new year if your kitchen was partly disassembled as the calendar hit the reset button? I'd tried to get the appliance delivered the day before just to avoid this.

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When the cabinet was empty, unscrewed, detached and removed (my dining room is full of food) Sir Washie came through the kitchen, out the back door and far away.

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I actually felt badly for him, right before - well, right before I remembered he was an inanimate object that had no feelings... but was distracted from my grief process by a developing crisis back in the kitchen.

The new washer is the same depth as Sir Washie, but about 4cm wider. This, we thought, was going to make it hard to get it downstairs, but not impossible. We may have been wrong. The cabinet was already removed (and lying in the hall) and now the new washer wouldn't even clear the doorway. Joe started talking about how it was just the door frame that was the problem, which was no problem, because he could "make it work" and for some crazy reason, the minute he used the word "sawzall" and "prybar" the delivery guys were in their truck and gunning it out of here. Joe called in the forces. My brother Ian and Ken came to help, and our neighbour Greg provided a variety of saws and emotional support. (He may also have been watching his back, since his house is the other half of our semi-detached - and once Joe started talking about sawing anything at all near a shared wall... Greg was interested.) I should have known how it was going to go when Ian walked thought the front door and said "I didn't miss all the sawing... did I?"

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The guys removed the facing board and tried again. Nope.
They reconsidered and hacked another board out of the frame.

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Still not big enough. They sawed another part of the frame out (seriously)

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removed a light switch (every centimetre counts) and this time,

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the washer cleared the frame,

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but would only go down the first two steps of the basement before the encountered another problem in the form of ... well. A wall. A wall that can't entirely be there if the washer is going to go down. Joe was standing in the basement with a sawzall, a crazy determined look in his eye and kept saying "I can do it... I have momentum!"
At this point it I may have flipped out and called a halt to operations while I stood in the kitchen and took stock for a minute. We had removed the door, the food, the cabinet, the door frame, removed light fixtures and sawed off chunks of the house. The house was trashed. The kitchen was trashed, there was a new washer mocking me from the back door, nobody has clean clothes, that doorway will never be right again and we were a few hours off of the New Year while my husband planned to take out a part of a wall that was in his way.

I took a deep breath and I gave a thoroughly impassioned speech about how we had crossed the crazy line. Totally crossed it. I told Joe that one of the things I love best about him is his optimism. He always believes that everything is going to work out, and I could see that Joe had decided that this washer was going into the basement no matter what it took. He was on a mission. I told him that I really love his optimism, but that this time it just wasn't appropriate. That this wasn't going well and that I didn't think it was going to start going well and that the washer was too damn big and that we needed to return it right now before he sawed up anything else and we needed to pay the extra money and get the apartment sized ones that I know I said I didn't want because I know it means I'll have to do a load of laundry every fourteen minutes for the rest of my life but now I don't care... because frankly - I've hit my limit for a SAWED UP HOUSE ON CRAZY JUICE.

And then I saw it. A huge scratch on the side of the washer. It can't be returned. The thing now belongs to us, and as that dawned on me, I was suddenly filled with an urge to hack a hole in the floor of the kitchen and just drop the *&^%$er through to the basement, or maybe shove it onto the stairs and leap upon it with the full force of my body until it fell through, smashing whatever needs to be smashed to make it work. I took a deep breath.

The boys went home. We put the tools down. I took a load of laundry to my Mother-In-Laws so this family could start the new year with something clean, and I went for a run. (A very short run. Turns out that -20 is way past my personal threshold- but it did work off a little of the frustration.) I came back and took a hot bath and we put a bottle of champagne in the fridge.

The boys are coming back today for round two. I am going to avert my eyes and knit while they saw up whatever they have to and try to preserve what's left of my sanity.

You wanna know the best part?

The new dryer comes on Sunday.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:21 AM